But along the way, we often find ourselves in seemingly unfamiliar territory, and as our minds seem to go through a kind of spiritual mind-wipe, for awhile, many of us become quite forgetful. It can be either really relaxing or really terrifying depending on how you hold onto the old ego identity. But why does this forgetfulness arise? Will it stay for ever? Here are some of my thoughts.
Rebooting the Mental Hard Drive
You have to understand that most of how people think is not natural. It's a set of trained responses and a whole bunch of really unconscious instinctual patterns coming out of god knows how many generations of evolution that just runs on autopilot most of the time. That is part of the nature of unconsciousness; we don't even know what we are doing or why we are doing it. What's worse is that we are so afraid to look inwards that we start building reasons why we don't have to. Then we create criteria to defend our ideas of ourselves and avoid explaining why we do what we do. "It's just who I am," you may hear people say. Perhaps you've even said it, but until you really look at yourself, this is a cop-out. It's an avoidance mechanism that is born out of fear.
However in awakening, you are squarely faced with yourself, and all kinds of things are churned up. For some of you, the mind seems to go blank. You feel like you can't think anymore. Remembering things becomes exceedingly difficult. Why? Because the old set of programs running you were running you into the ground. They've now been removed or at least turned off. Letting these go makes space for you to consciously develop healthy thinking habits. It may sound a little funny to consider how you think as a type of habit, but it truly is. How you energize your thoughts goes a long way in defining how you perceive and interpret your life. In washing away the old unhealthy habits, now you will suddenly and naturally see life in a new way. It doesn't mean that you can see all of life. We are small little beings with small little perspectives in the grand scheme of life. But we can be aware that we have perspectives and that we can change how we view life and influence other things more consciously with our thoughts.
The Expansiveness of LifeThere's also a way that we become forgetful because we become full of the moment. In the present moment, there is no need for concern with the past or future. Through this presence, we actually can more appropriately engage with the future instead of incessantly worrying about it or trying to guard against some sort of perceived threat. I can't over-emphasize how much most of humanity is operating in a survival mode--regardless of social standing. Who needs billions of dollars? Only someone in a severely out-of-whack survival mode hoards that much wealth and resources. It may seem rather different to put it in that perspective, but most people have not accumulated that much wealth through the love of it. It tends to come from a deep fear of scarcity and lack of self-love that money appears to address, but ultimately does not.
With that said, the scarcity fears and lack of self-love melt away in oneness. You are complete. So what is there to really think about? What is there to do or to talk about? Many awakened people can be very quiet. It's not because they aren't smart or able to engage with the world. It's because they're simply enjoying the expansiveness of the moment, and they don't feel called to bring their awareness into a focused set of thoughts and actions.
With that in mind, I encourage many of you newly awakened to make time to sit in this space. Let go of the concerns for what you are forgetting and let yourself acclimate to this awareness--to this fullness of you.
The Bare Necessities of LifeYet, I do recognize that we have certain things we have to deal with in this world (rent, mortgages, children's soccer practices, etc.). And the awakened space isn't naturally all spaced out in bliss. This is a phase. There are some of you who will try to hide out in this space. While you weren't scared of it, you are scared of what it will show you about yourself as this awareness more deeply roots inside you. Ultimately, you can do whatever you want in this awareness, but on this blog, my encouragement is to embrace this awareness as fully as possible. That means making space in your heart, body, mind, and energy field for all of you. Just open to it fully, and things will start to shift. Your focus will be needed, and things that were forgotten inside you will be revealed.
The awakened space has this amazing way of remembering the important stuff while giving you the space to forget and consciously let go of useless mental chatter. For some of you, the quiet in your mind is overwhelming at first, and so you re-train yourself to think, tell yourself stories (good and bad), and so forth. I've learned to smile at my mind when it starts telling me stories. I kind of see it as stage with actors on it, but I no longer consider myself the primary actor in that saga. I consider myself a part of the audience, and I can laugh at the silly things that my mind makes up that rarely ever happen in real life.
So down you go more deeply inside of you as you begin to integrate with this awareness, and with that comes the necessity to have courage as you learn to see all of your brightness and darkness.
Lists, Email Reminders, and Alarm ClocksDuring the forgetfulness phase that some of you will experience, I encourage you to take advantage of technology and life's many little prompts to remember things, appointments, and so forth so that your mind does not have to concern itself with them as much. Make it part of your spiritual practice to set up reminders on your email, phone, or sticky notes on the bathroom vanity mirror so that you do remember the absolutely critical stuff in your daily life. After that, you can rest assured that nothing big will be missed.
And if something is missed, this is a practice in nonjudgment as well. You may have to ask forgiveness if you let someone down, and you may need to see if there are other reasons you did not remember an appointment. Is this part of a pattern of self-sabotaging? Did you not really want to go to do something? Sometimes I notice that the unconscious ego tries to use elements of the awakened space to play out other dramas, but here in this light, you have the chance to root out all of its nasty little games. I encourage you to do so, and as you acclimate to your awareness, you will have fewer issues with forgetting things.
The Persistence of Lost MemoriesI can't say that awakening will make you think in the way that you used to. You simply won't. There are certainly ways of thinking that I have not re-trained myself to do. For instance, I used to be extremely good at math, but there has been little reason to bring this back. You may also notice that some memories just dissolve away, and part of this is because you have no need to attach your identity so firmly to different things. In some ways, my journaling has been a way to help me remember a lot of what I've learned so that I can share it with you. Otherwise, there are a number of lessons and situations that arose and passed away which I simply don't remember.
Another reason people feel so forgetful is that they are forgetting (letting go) of their ego selves which define themselves on past experiences. A lot of that just melts away. There are so many things in my past that now truly feel like someone else experienced them. They feel very far away, and while I honor that person's past, he is not me. And tomorrow's me won't be today's me. And every day we have a chance to get up and be re-born completely new. That's the gift of not holding onto the past.
Nothing to Worry About: Just BeBut as I said, there is nothing to worry about. So long as you aren't trying to hide in the bliss state (which comes and goes and comes and goes), the forgetfulness will start to melt away as remembrance arises. Clarity returns with deeper perception. What you will start to remember about yourself will vary, and invariably, there will be something to learn and to embrace as you go through your individual, unique process of embodying you. Ultimately, this awareness is simply taking you to that space of presence that allows you to be as you are and to live your life in freedom.
This picture is gift from Becky Stiller. You can see more of her photography on this Flickr link.